This is one of the most irritating behaviors of senior dogs that will always leave the owners frustrated. Several reasons can lead to this excessive licking syndrome and you must determine the underlying cause to solve the problem. Keep reading to find out why your senior dog is licking the floor and how you can stop this behavior.
Why is My Senior Dog Licking the Floor?
In addition to attention-seeking behavior, some medical issues can also trigger your pooch to lick the floor. For instance, stomach problems (like chronic pancreatitis and gastric emptiness) can also lead to excessive floor licking. Some of the most common causes of this inappropriate behavior are discussed below.
This is one of the most common reasons why dogs tend to lick carpet floors. This is because they consider it grass, which is the preferred food for canines in nauseous situations. Vomiting is the most obvious symptom to indicate that your dog’s licking problem is caused by nausea. Some other signs of nausea include frequent smacking of lips, drooling, and swallowing.
If the vomiting is infrequent, things are most likely normal and your pooch will be fine. However, frequent vomiting can cause stomach parasites, toxin disclosure, and endocrine diseases. Therefore, you should take your dog to the vet as soon as possible if he/she keeps throwing up.
NOTE: If your pup coughs or pants while licking the floor, it could be a sign of acid reflux.
Some conditions and medications cause extreme cravings in dogs, and they start feeling hungry all the time. These cravings can make your senior dog obsessive to eat or lick everything, including floors. If your dog is in such a condition, he/she can damage a lot of household items, like carpets and furniture.
The urge to gain the owner’s attention can also make senior dogs lick the floor. An old dog has a strong connection with his/her family and will want some attention whenever you are around. Hence, your pup may play this attention-seeking stunt to gain your attention. Always remember that any sort of feedback (positive or negative) will strengthen this behavior.
Residual food crumbs or spilled drinks can also instigate your senior dog to lick the floor. This type of licking can be quite dangerous for your pooch because he/she can ingest something toxic. If all the ingredients are safe, your canine companion can have food leftovers, but not by licking the floor.
Canine Cognitive Dysfunction
This condition is also known as dementia and will result in the cognitive decline of your pup. Therefore, canine cognitive dysfunction harms the behavior of your senior dog. Licking the floor and furniture is one such example. In addition to that, dogs suffering from this problem can also forget house training. These canines suffer from restlessness, have irregular sleep or wake cycles, and may develop unexpected new phobias.
Separation anxiety (or any other type of stress) can also cause your dog to lick the floor. Some dogs can also use carpet licking as a coping mechanism to calm their nerves.
What to Do if My Senior Dog is Licking the Floor?
It’s imperative to identify the underlying cause for the proper rectification of this behavior. Hence, it’s highly recommended to consult your vet as soon as possible to rule out medical issues. If any medical complication is there, this symptom will fade away once the main problem is cured. If your pooch is healthy and still exhibiting this bad habit, the following tips can prove quite useful.
Give Your Dog Some Bread
If your senior dog is licking the floor because of nausea, feeding them some bread can be beneficial. This can also relieve the discomfort of acid reflux or if something is stuck into the throat. The ball of bread will push the stuck junk down the esophagus for fast relief.
Ignore Your Pup
This is the perfect way to overcome the attention-seeking issue of your canine friend. You need to ignore your senior dog completely as soon as he/she starts licking the floor. Even a word of caution will encourage your pup to persist with this behavior. You can also leave the room to discourage this wrong behavior.
If this technique works, that’s great. Otherwise, you can spray a detergent on the area your dog is licking. Just make sure that the detergent is safe for dogs.
Clean Food Crumbs
If you want to stop your dog from licking leftover food on the floor, clean everything thoroughly. You can use a vacuum to remove all the food crumbs, especially if you have carpeted floors.
Make Dietary Changes
This is the perfect solution for your senior dog if he/she is licking the floor due to nutritional and gastric problems. It’s highly advisable to consult your vet to make some positive changes in your pup’s diet. You can also change the timing of meals to help your dog with acid reflux.
Find a Good Licking Substitute
Some dogs love to lick and the floor is the most convenient option for them. If you own such a canine, it is recommended to provide him/her with a puppy popsicle or a Kong toy. This will keep your senior dog busy and won’t affect their health.
If your senior dog is looking anxious or stressed, this is always an effective remedy. You can excite your pup by increasing playtime or taking him/her on long walks. These activities will encourage your dog to avoid negative behaviors, like licking floors, by decreasing the frustration levels.
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